Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Register of John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury 1486-1500, Volume III: Norwich Sede Vacante, 1499

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Register of John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury 1486-1500, Volume III: Norwich Sede Vacante, 1499

Article excerpt

The Register of fohn Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury 1486-1500,Volume III: Norwich Sede Vacante, 1499. Edited by Christopher Harper-Bill. [Canterbury and York Society, Volume LXXXIX.] (Rochester, New York: Boydell Press. 2000. Pp. xii, 324. $55.00.)

Professor Harper-Bill, already the editor of the first two volumes of Archbishop John Morton's register, suggests that "perhaps most especially" this final volume "provides further evidence of the conscientious efficiency of late medieval ecclesiastical administration, and of the general contentment of the English people with the religious environment in which they lived" (p. ix). The register of the five-month vacancy at Norwich furnishes "perhaps the fullest account of the administration of any English diocese over a short space of time" (p. 1). Harper-Bill has calendared in English "all the essential information" (p. 21) of 832 entries. Of these the most extensive are wills (# 47-180), accounts of movies owed to the archbishop by reason of the vacancy (# 181-233), and records of the visitation of the diocese by the archbishop's delegates and of consistory court judgments resulting from the visitation (# 234-832). Of the two appendices, the detailed itineraries of the archbishop's commissaries are especially valuable. Seventy-eight pages of indices complete the volume.

Of the fifty-five cases heard by the consistory court all but three concern sexual or marital issues. In the visitation records, because the comperta et detecta are recorded in full, an "unusual [circumstance] for these ephemeral records" (p. 4), sexual matters are not so overwhelmingly prominent; those records include multiple instances of failure to attend church, detention of a testator's goods, talking in church, superstition, and clerical non-residence and neglect of church property. …

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